A vertigo is a reeling sensation that either you are spinning or the world around you is spinning. Exercises for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common cause for bouts of vertigo, can help to overcome the feeling of vertigo.
Before knowing about the basic positional vertigo exercises, let’s have a brief idea of what exactly is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and its symptoms.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is an abnormal feeling of motion or spinning that may last for a few seconds or up to a minute. It occurs due to some problem in the inner ear, causing brief vertigo spells that come and go. The inner ear canal consists of tiny calcium stones coming from a structure in the ear called the utricle, which helps you to keep balance. These particles move around in the ear canal when we move in a certain way, like while standing up, looking up at a high shelf or at the sky, or turning your head. Due to some infection or inflammation, these stones are unable to move, as a result wrong signals are sent to the brain that affect our balance. You may experience a feeling of spinning or tilting while moving your head, rolling over in bed, turning your head quickly, bending over, or tipping your head back. Though it’s not a serious health illness, dizziness, loss of balance, blurred vision, lightheadedness, nausea, and even vomiting are some common symptoms of vertigo. It usually lasts for a minute or two and can be mild or severe.
Benign Positional Vertigo Exercises
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo exercises help the particles or stones in the semicircular canals of our ear to move freely. These exercises help in maintaining body balance and prevent the vertigo from occurring. Whenever performing these exercise, do them slowly to prevent hitting your head or any minor injuries.
Here are three exercises with pictures for this condition, which are frequently used for treatment. A physiotherapist helps the patient with these exercises, and after that the patient can continue doing these exercises few times a day for self-treatment.
Also called the particle repositioning or canalith repositioning maneuver, it’s a training exercise in which you have to position your head into four sequential movements by assigning a fixed duration of time for each position.
- Sit upright and position your head to the symptomatic side at an angle of 45°, and lie down on your back.
- Remain in this position for at least 5 minutes and then turn your head at an angle of 90° to the other side.
- Remain in this position for another 5 minutes and turn your body onto your side with your face pointing downwards.
- After being in this position for 5 minutes, go back to your sitting position and remain in that position for nearly 30 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 2-3 times more, and relax.
There is also a modified Epley’s Maneuver. In this exercise, a pillow is used to support the shoulder, while the head is hanging over the bed’s edge. However, this exercise is performed with the help of a physiotherapist.
Also called liberatory maneuver, this exercise involves swift movement of the head from one side to the other. The session lasts for 10 – 15 minutes, in which the head is moved firmly in different positions so that the calcium stones move freely and no longer cause vertigo symptoms.
- Sit straight and turn your head at an angle of 45° horizontally towards the unaffected ear.
- Tilt your head at an angle of 105° so that you are lying on the side of the affected ear with your head hanging and facing upwards. Remain in this position for around 3 – 5 minutes, allowing the debris to move to the apex of the ear canal.
- Keeping your head in the same position, lie on the side of the unaffected ear with your nose pointed to the ground. Remain in this position for 3 – 5 minutes, allowing the debris to move towards the exit of the ear canal.
- Finally move back to your initial sitting position and relax.
This exercise is usually tried when the Semont or modified Epley maneuvers are not effective enough. In this exercise, the patient is repeatedly asked to shift from a sitting position to a lying position until the vertigo stops. It improves the brain’s ability to cope up with the conflicting balance signals it is receiving. This exercise is also recommended for people with labyrinthitis.
- Sit straight on the edge of the bed and turn your head slightly to the left side at an angle of 45°.
- Lie down quickly on your back to the right side and remain in this position for 20 – 30 seconds or until the dizziness resolves.
- Sit up straight and again wait in this position for 20 – 30 seconds or until the dizziness resolves.
- Now turn your head slightly to right side and lie down quickly on your back to the left side.
- Remain in this position for another 20 – 30 seconds and then sit upright, and repeat the procedure.
As a beginner, perform these exercises under a doctor’s supervision, and once you are thorough with them, try practicing them at home, at least 2 – 3 times daily. If you observe positive results after the first week of following these exercises, then decrease the frequency to 3 – 4 times per week.
In case you experience dizziness, make sure you sit down immediately. Also, use good lighting in case you get up at night. Consider using a cane to stabilize yourself and prevent any falls. Many times BPPV recurs, even after successful therapy. However, this condition is manageable and exercises like above which form a part of physical therapy can help to cope the condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.